Through the early part of my childhood, one person consistently plagued my playtime down at the playground. As much as I enjoyed playing with the neighborhood kids, and particularly spending time with the girl of my very young dreams, there was always a fear whenever I headed down to the playground that I would see him.
He was easily twice as old as me, skinny, and twice my height. He had his hair cropped short as though he stayed in a boy’s home by choice, wore glasses, and would always hold an ugly gaunt sneer.
He only targeted me when I was alone, and whenever he did catch me on my own, always taunted me, threw things at me, tripped me up, whatever physical abuse he could throw at me, he did.
I did what I could to either get him off my back or avoid him. I tried everything from getting my parents to confront him, confronting his parents (I knew where he stayed), running away from him, calling passing cops on him, but he would always come back, and I would always get hurt one way or another, and sometimes even cry.
This went on for a full 3 years, from when I was 9 years old. And one day when I saw him sitting in his void deck, one leg up, looking rather pleased with himself when I told myself I had enough.
I bolted home and raided my dad’s toolkit, found a screwdriver and hammer, and put it in my backpack. I ran back to his void deck, and took out my hammer, then proceeded to charge at him as fast as I could. He turned and saw me, let out a snigger, and dodged my attack with ease. I was too small; he was too fast. Those were the same reasons why he could always best me, and the same reasons why it could last for a good three years.
But I was determined. I swung at him, again and again and again. He just kept dodging, and laughing, and dodging and laughing. Then he got up (yes, he was still sitting down) and started running towards the playground, taunting me in Chinese, “Catch me if you can”.
I ran as fast as I could after him, tears beginning to stream from my face. He was already at the playground, perched in the beak of the stone pelican, before I was even halfway there. When I finally got there, I took a minute to catch my breath and wipe my tears away, eyes locked at him in a killer’s stare. I put my hammer back in my backpack and walked towards the pelican, hand still in my bag. When I was close enough to him, I drew out the screwdriver and started stabbing wildly, hoping to catch his legs.
But he was still too fast. Stunned that I was going through such great lengths to hurt him, he scrambled up to the top of the pelican, knowing I was too short and weak to climb up after him. I managed to climb up onto the mouth of the pelican, and through the round access on the top of it’s beak, tried again and again to jab him with the screwdriver. The futile attack went on for a good half an hour; with each stab, my anger increased and the pelican was getting the brunt of it, but not him. He just kept on dodging, kept on laughing, like I was playing a game with him, and he was winning.
And he did. I lost my energy, my pride, my anger. I lost the battle. And I went home, tears still streaming down my face.
But perhaps i did send a message across with that attack. Perhaps he realised after I had left that there was a limit to little children’s patience, and he had pushed mine too far. Or perhaps he thought that if a kid could come up and try to stab him with a screwdriver, one day that kid might actually succeed in doing it. Or maybe he just got into too much trouble and really got locked up in a boys’ home. Whatever the reason, after that day, he never picked on me again, and when I saw him again, it was always far away enough for us to never cross paths.